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Artists House Returns

John Snyder’s Artists House label released only a dozen or so albums during its brief existence in the late 1970s. The label folded before the ’80s rolled around and shuttered with no vault of master tapes to turn into profits by reissuing them down the road. Those tapes belonged to the artists-folk like Jim Hall, Andrew Hill and Art Pepper-because Artists House was the kind of label that gave ultimate control to the artist. It was idealism in practice.

Recently resurrected, Artists House will continue to do what it did in the 1970s, with Snyder at the helm of the company, not the creative process. The label’s artists will own their master tapes and approve all aspects of the production, from the music to the album art. The seven artists currently in the label’s stable range from folk to swamp-rock to jazz acts. Bob Brookmeyer and Kenny Wheeler will release an album called Island on Artists House soon.

In its previous incarnation, Artists House issued LPs in gatefold packaging with extras-a-plenty: booklets of artist’s notes, photographs, discographies, music lead sheets, transcribed solos, mix diagrams, even information about books on the business of music and how to release self-made recordings. The CD’s restrictive jewel case doesn’t allow for the inclusion of such printed material in new Artists House releases, but Snyder will continue to aid interested listeners via DVD and the Internet. Many Artists House albums will come with a DVD that could include master classes, recording session footage and other visual footage that should help demystify the creative and recording processes. Lead sheets, mix diagrams and other data for musicians and hardcore music geeks will be made available at

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